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Following the announcement that PRS for Music has today, 27 January, launched a licensing portal for small-scale livestream events, artists and industry organisations have raised concerns about the level of the licence fee.

In a joint statement, the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) said the fee equates to a minimum 9% tariff on events generating less than £500, and could mean that some artists promoting their own shows would be obliged to pay up to 100% of gross revenues to PRS – even if performing their own original compositions for free as a fundraising for charities during the pandemic.

The licence fee is more than double the 4.2% tariff for ‘in-person’ live events.

In the statement FAC CEO David Martin and MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick said, “All of us want songwriters and composers to be paid fairly and efficiently for the use of their work, but this is not the way to go about it.  Once again, we would urge PRS for Music to stop acting unilaterally.  They need to urgently listen to the growing concerns of artists and their representatives during the pandemic, implement a waiver for performer-writers to opt-out of such fees, and commit to a full and transparent industry-wide consultation before issuing invoices to cash-strapped artists.”

The organisations has issued a basic modelling of the impact of the PRS flat fee on different levels of livestream events with gross ticket income from £0 to £500. It is available here.

Artist, songwriter and FAC board director Roxanne de Bastion said that PRS had not consulted its members with regard to the new licence, which appears to penalise independent artists, who largely perform their own material: “It makes absolutely no sense for me as an artist to pay a licence to PRS, only to get it back – which can sometimes take years – once PRS has deducted its admin fees. We need clarification and amendments to this, so that artists are not out of pocket with their livestream shows”

Chris Chadwick, manager of artists including Puma Blue, Rosie Lowe and Guy Sigsworth added, “Today’s announcement suggests the PRS’s long-term intention to set tariffs for even the smallest live streamed concerts at very best double the rate of pre-pandemic live gigs and shows a worrying lack of understanding that, for the majority of artists participating, live streamed concerts are self-funded and non-profitable, marketing events.”